In December, we sent the first of several surveys to APS members, former members, and yet-to-be members. We received 5,090 individual responses; 88 percent were APS members, 7 percent were former members, and 5 percent were non-members. We’d like to learn more about bringing people into the fold, so in future surveys, we will find ways to engage former members and non-members for additional feedback.
Among APS members, 54 percent of members responding have been with the APS for 20 years or more. In future surveys, we will add more categories to the length of membership and include life membership to gain more insight into how members access services.
In the February issue of the journal, I explored member participation in APS services. In a survey coming this month, we will go more in-depth on those services, starting with Circuit Sales, Internet Sales, and Expertizing. The complete survey is available online at aps.buzz/2023APSSurvey, but we’ll discuss some highlights here.
You like us
Among APS members, 97 percent were very satisfied/satisfied with the APS. This response reflects in our annual 90 percent retention rate, considered the goal of any membership organization. Among non-members, 93 percent were very satisfied/satisfied. For former members, the primary reason for dropping membership was a change in financial or health circumstances. In future surveys, we’ll inquire about what brings members to the APS and how we can attract other members.
When asked if a member was willing to recommend APS membership to a family member or friend, 89 percent responded they were. For those who were unlikely, the responses were primarily based on not knowing anyone who collected stamps or a negative outlook on the hobby's future. We have work to do here to help connect collectors, which will help change some of the views on the future.
The American Philatelist rules
Ninety-eight percent of APS members and 92 percent of former members read The American Philatelist. That is the most commonly used APS member benefit by a sizable majority. Ninety-five percent of members are very satisfied/satisfied with the journal, with a full two-thirds very satisfied. Among former members, 85 percent were very satisfied/satisfied with The AP.
We strive to put out an excellent issue every month, which can be a challenge given the diverse collecting interest of the members. It is a testament to the APS members who give their time to write quality articles for fellow members and the fine work of editor Susanna Mills, senior editor Jeff Stage, and graphic designer Chad Cowder, for the care they put into each issue.
Letters to the Editor remain the most popular feature in the AP, with 75 percent responding they always/usually read. The President’s column is a close second at 73 percent. Ken Martin’s contributions, “Philatelic Happenings” and “Adventures in Expertizing”, follow closely with 69 percent and 67 percent, respectively.
The digital divide
When asked which options would make joining the APS more appealing, 52 percent of non-members supported a lower-priced digital-only membership to the APS. Among former members, this option led among the choices, with 44 percent of former members supporting the digital-only membership. Among APS members, only 27 percent expressed an interest in converting to a digital-only membership. We should consider a gateway membership for younger or less experienced collectors to encourage participation in the philatelic community. The membership should not only be access to the journal but include a bundle of services. The goal is to do no harm to the valuable services we provide APS members today. Future surveys will examine how membership would be best structured.
Expanding our code of ethics
In the February issue, I shared some responses from the proposed merger between the APS and ASDA. While we are not proceeding with those discussions, the survey highlighted some areas where we should be more active.
Sixty-four percent of members believe we should be more active in protecting online stamp buyers. A full 85 percent agree that dealers and collectors should work together to create more ethical sales practices in the hobby.
During the discussion of the APS/ASDA merger, one of the most vocalized arguments against the merger was that dealers and collectors have conflicting interests and cannot work together on ethical practices. Only 16 percent of respondents agreed with that sentiment, while 61 percent disagreed.
The APS has a long-time dealer member program that needs modernization and becomes a better resource for our members and the dealers we serve. Later this month, the APS Board will vote to reconstitute the Dealer Advisory Council and charge them with this mission. We’ll solicit more feedback from collectors and dealers as we progress.
For those who participated in the survey, thank you for taking the time to help us better serve you. If you missed this opportunity, our following survey launches this month, and your feedback is critical. In the meantime, I always welcome hearing from APS members by email at [email protected] or by mail at 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823.